Next Media was founded by high profile businessman Jimmy Lai, known for his support for democracy and criticism of China. It introduced tabloid-style journalism into Hong Kong and Taiwan, with the hugely successful Apple Daily. The group made a rare misstep by entering Taiwan’s saturated broadcasting market. In October 2012 it agreed to sell its loss-making Taiwan TV unit and to terminate its video-on-demand (VOD) services, but the deal fell through in March 2013.
Hong Kong shares in Next Media jump 56pc on Taiwan deal
Shares in Hong Kong’s Next Media (0282.HK), controlled by media mogul Jimmy Lai, on Thursday jumped as much as 56 per cent after the firm said it would sell its Taiwan assets in a deal worth US$600 million.
The stock rose to HK$1.75 in morning trade, a day after Lai signed two memoranda of understanding with Jeffrey Koo Jr, chairman of the Chinatrust Charity Foundation. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was up 0.62 per cent.
The deal – which has seen Koo pay 10 per cent of the fee as a refundable deposit – involves Apple Daily’s Taiwan edition, Taiwan Sharp Daily, Next magazine and Next TV.
The deal, if completed, will mark Lai’s exit from Taiwan after he expanded his media empire to the island in 2001 with the launch of Next magazine and Apple Daily, which have both been commercial successes.
But his venture into its saturated television market, where there are more than 100 cable TV channels including six 24-hour news stations, in the middle of last year appeared to be a failure, according to media reports.
Koo has the exclusive right until November 16 to negotiate over the deal.
Next said the transaction would allow it to focus its resources on its operations in Hong Kong and in further developing its digital businesses.